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The Packers QB Question Is Answered

After his fourth NFC championship loss, Aaron Rodgers made a comment about his future; that nothing in the NFL is guaranteed. A firestorm of pundit responses erupted. Some articles started with trade options for Rodgers, some started with trade options for Jordan Love. One said it was a purposeful, vengeful, strike at Gutekunst for drafting Love. Others just wailed and wrung their hands in a “what will this mean” for the Packers future.

Rodgers took it all in and then chuckled in subsequent interviews at the response. He may have been chuckling, but Rodgers is correct; there are no guarantees. Brady parted ways with Belichick. Thompson parted ways with Favre. Every team replaces players during what we almost euphemistically call, “the NFL off-season.” Even the attainment of every player’s ultimate goal, a track record of consistent high performance at your position, does not guarantee return to your team. “Salary cap casualties” often mean teams must balance the replaceability of a player over on field performance. Corey Linsley is a pro bowler in a contract year, but his performance, while valued by fans and his teammates on the field, may have priced him out of the Packer’s market. Aaron Jones is another example. His hiring a new agent means he wants a resolution to the simple question; “Have I earned a raise?”

Another Packer player, Kevin King, played hurt in a playoff game in a contract year. That tape will not help his agent in negotiations with the Packers or any other team. There is no doubt that the Packers will look at other corners on the free agent and trade market before they double down with the oft- injured King. But replacing an MVP QB in the middle of a 4 year contract? Packer President Mark Murphy summed it up with a phrase that I am sure somewhere down the line he will regret uttering. “We are not idiots.” Not the high water mark most fans are looking for in their team’s brain trust, but it was simply stated and to the point. In 2021, the Packers will rely on Rodgers to man the offense for their championship aspirations.

Aug 30, 2019; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Utah State Aggies quarterback Jordan Love (10) looks to pass the ball during the third quarter against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB&T Field. Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The real question will be 2022 and 2023. Jordan Love will either improve as Rodgers did in his three years of understudy, or the Packers will trade Love and admit the pick was a bust. No other position leads to as many high profile busts as first round QB draft picks. For every Patrick Mahomes, you have a Mitch Trubisky. With Josh Allen, there was Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, or even Baker Mayfield. There is a big difference in wins between finding an Aaron Rodgers and landing JaMarcus Russell or Jason Campbell or even… Alex Smith. Smith and perhaps Mayfield could be the topic of conversations on player versus team. If a QB is really good, could he raise a mediocre team to greatness.

Could he raise a less than mediocre team to greatness? Can a great team raise a mediocre QB to a Super Bowl? Trent Dilfer and Joe Flacco might not want to admit it but fans have seen it happen. The NFL is packed with average QB’s who start for non-playoff teams. Each year we see these team leaders have good games and think they will raise their level of play, only to see a fall back to average. Kirk Cousins seems to fit in this category. He has won playoff games, but also played poorly in them and lost at least in part due to his poor performances.

In the 2020 offseason there may be a QB that raises the intriguing question again. If a trade of QB’s occurs the answer will be decided on the field in 2021. Is Deshawn Watson a great QB on a poor team or a slightly better than average QB on an average team? He has now requested a trade. Hard for a team leader to come back into a locker room after telling his mates he wants out from under them and the organization. If he is traded, and he performs well, the Texan organization could take a decade to recover. If he is traded and plays poorly having to learn a new offense and a new set of receivers, the pressure he is trying to escape may land fully on his back in ways he may not have anticipated.

Matthew Stafford has put up some great stats for Detroit over 10+ years. He is now 32 and his injuries are piling up. But he can still sling it. How much of the Lions failure was Stafford and how much was the team around him? The 2021 NFL season could bring an interesting answer to that question. But how hard would it be for even an experienced NFL QB to succeed with a new team?

Brett Favre is one example of how a QB can go from one organization to another and succeed. Favre had the luxury of 15 years of NFL experience, multiple MVP’s, a Super Bowl ring and a reputation for being fearless. A fourth quarter comeback QB that rarely saw the potential for defeat. Philip Rivers playoff appearance for the Colts in 2020 proved what a cagey vet can do for a team with a solid defense and decent playmakers.

Watson has a collegiate championship, but does not have the lengthy pro credentials of Favre or Rivers. He does bring 4 years of starting experience with an overall QB passer rating of over 100. His 2020 season had a QBR of 112.4 with 33 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions. Will Watson be traded? If he is traded the Bears, Lions and Vikings should take a good long look at him. His decision could impact a Rodgers led Packer team, or even a future Jordan Love led Packer team. Or it could leave the team that gambles on him in another mediocre malaise. Watson is just one QB that could be on the move. If Brady wins another ring, he could hang up the cleats for good. In the NFL North there is a potential that every team besides the Packers will start a different QB in 2021 than their starter in 2020. The Colts, Patriots, 49ers, WFT, Saints, Broncos, Jaguars, Jets, and Panthers may also be chasing the MVP passer of their dreams.

From the dawning of the 2021 season on March 17th, until the NFL draft is completed on May 1st, the quest for the franchise QB will play out for each team. NFL teams have until March 9th to designate Franchise/Transition players. Until then, the drama of the offseason will continue to percolate. Oh, and I think there is one more game on the schedule. Let me know how that turns out. I plan to shovel my driveway that Sunday.

Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards is a lawyer, victim advocate, writer, and long term Packer fan and Packer history enthusiast.

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9 Comments

  1. Mick January 30, 2021

    This offseason is gonna be interesting, for sure. With the impending salary cap issues, turnover with some coaches, and players on the move; who knows what’s gonna take place. Many star players, and teams for that matter; will look a lot different come September. Awhile back, I think it was PF4L mentioning that the teams that aren’t in salary cap hell will be able to get some good players on the cheap. Who would have thought that a damn virus could disrupt a multi-billion dollar business? I have to give the NFL credit for making the necessary adjustments so that we could watch a whole season of football!

  2. Billy Kilmer January 30, 2021

    “ Kirk Cousins seems to fit in this category. He has won playoff games, but also played poorly in them and lost at least in part due to his poor performances.”

    Not sure it’s entirely fair to say this. Cousins twice has appeared in the playoffs, in ‘15 with Washington and ‘19 with the Vikings. In that 2015 playoff game against the Pack Cousins threw for 330 yards, no picks, a TD and ran another one in. The Pack domonated the Deadskins with Aaron throwing for only 210 yards along eitj 2 TDs and taking a safety.

    Last year’s playoffs the Vikings beat the Saints on Cousins’ game long performance and late game throws. Next game the Niners did to Minnesota what The Pack had done to Washington in ‘15, completely dominated the lines.

  3. KILLER January 30, 2021

    The Packers are in a bad salary cap situation, one of the worst in the league. They do have their QB and many teams with a better salary cap sitch do not have that.

    The Packers situation is so bad that they cannot resolve it by simply not resigning their free agents. That alone would leave them a couple dozen million over the cap. So that means losing Kevin King, Aaron Jones, and Corey Linsley at the least and then trimming fat and moving contract money into future years for other players. Not only do they need to clear the cap space, they also need to clear more space in order to sign draft picks. Moving money into future years sounds good, sounds like free money, but the bill does come due. Help out this coming Paul year and Peter pays for it the years after that. Robbing from Peter to pay Paul!

    End result? Down a couple pro bowlers, down a lot of depth, no new additions other than the draft, down the DC, down the special teams coordinator and so loss of continuity, and, of course, added resentment and an added year of age on a graybeard QB.

    The future is not bright. At least… not for the Packers….

    1. PF4L January 30, 2021

      L B….since you got released, you’ve come in here pretending to be an expert on Green Bay Packers everything.
      .
      The last i heard about the vikings from you i think was the season they started the season 5-0. Then after that you reverted back to the Packers being your favorite obsessive subject.
      .
      Don’t you like the vikings anymore, or do you just find that talking about a Championship team is much more interesting?
      .
      I mean…i get it….if i have 2 brothers, and one is in special needs, and the other won 13 Olympic Gold medals. Although i still love my brother in special needs, i’ll be talking about my Gold medal brother more often.
      .
      Although we appreciate your analysis of the Packers future not being bright, maybe being void of any new gold medals soon.
      Wouldn’t it be nice if you talked about your other brother, the vikings?
      Give them a hug, tell them you still love them. Is that too much too ask, don’t they deserve it?
      .

      Maybe your special needs brother could win a Gold medal in the Special Olympics. You can’t get behind him and support that?
      The thing after winning gold medals is…you have them, nobody can take them away.
      .
      I think it’s time you showed your brother some love and support him in his quest for gold.

      The Packers will do just fine without you.
      .

      1. Rebelgb February 1, 2021

        Fucking epic.

      2. Kato February 2, 2021

        LMFAO

  4. Stiggy February 2, 2021

    Packers QB question wont be answered until Rodgers gets/doesnt get a new contract. He’s offering the “win now” front office significant salary cap flexibility in exchange for 2 more years commitment to him. We will find out very soon the real truth to the packers QB situation moving forward this offseason.

    1. PF4L February 2, 2021

      I saw the truth, in last years draft.
      .
      Gute can change his thought process if he wants because of how Rodgers played, it’s a free Country.
      But last years draft was a wasted opportunity to strengthen the talent on the field. Gute failed the team, and Packer Nation.

      1. PF4L February 2, 2021

        There is no sin in going into the draft and failing to find talent to help your football team.
        .
        The sin is…..not even trying.